PCBA Supply Chain Check List

When talking about areas of concern in such a complex industry, it’s sometimes difficult to priorities them in order of importance – so let’s talk about it. Frequently we are talking about DFM, solder joint inspection, testing, parts obsolescence, solder voids, REACh compliance and the SCIP database just name a few. While these are all important topics, one new challenge has certainly risen to the top of the list.

What’s today’s conversation like?
Weak links in your supply chain may be more apparent today and overshadow the “normal” conversations with your contract manufacturers. Today, companies are facing new challenges that have changed the daily conversation. Manufacturers must focus on right sized work forces, CDC guidelines, component availability and critical lead times. We know that these unusual times have exposed weaknesses in some OEM’s supply chain that they didn’t know existed.

How strong is your supply chain?
OEM’s must focus on safety in production, maintaining schedules, and delivering essential military, industrial and medical equipment to market. How well are your contract manufacturers managing your risk exposure today?

Are they:

  • Maintaining quality acceptance rates and On-Time delivery?
  • Ensuring the safety of their staff with PPE and rigorous cleaning protocols?
  • Working with a diverse group of part suppliers to ensure components availability?
  • Working on advance ordering to support long lead items?
  • Stocking parts on site to meet schedule needs?
  • Offering testing options on quick turn prototypes without the investment of costly fixtures?
  • Maintaining multiple work shifts to maintain production capacity?
  • Leveraging buying power to maintain fair market pricing?

Many companies are experiencing issues with their supply chains and are re-evaluating their sources, seeking options that will provide quality product, on-time delivery at the lowest overall cost of ownership.
OEM’s need to monitor how well their contract manufacturing partners are performing to their key metrics to make sure they can provide quality product on time, every time.

If your Contract Manufacturer is checking all the boxes you are in good shape. If not, give us a call, we’d love to chat.

Ref: COVID-19 coronavirus

Managing schedules during the uncertainty the impact the coronavirus will have on lead times of electronic components.


To Our Valued Customers,

Ref:  COVID-19 coronavirus

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the likely negative impact on lead times of electronic components due to the coronavirus, and to outline the steps Altek Electronics is taking to mitigate delivery delays to our customers.

Lead Times of Electronic Components

While there is uncertainty as to exactly how much of
an impact the coronavirus will have on lead times of electronic components, a
number of reliable industry sources warn there will be a delay on certain components
of several weeks or months.  The
information is in flux and we’re working with suppliers to stay current.  All known shortages have been communicated
with customers, or mitigated by using alternate sources or approved alternate
parts.    We will continue to monitor the situation and
provide updates as new information becomes available.

Mitigation of Delivery Delays:

•    Safety Stock:  Altek will be building up a safety-stock of finished
goods inventory for orders that we ship on a regular basis.  In return, we ask that customers not push out
any scheduled delivery within a 4-week window. 
 It will take several weeks to establish
our buffer stock.  We’re hopeful this
will mitigate any incidence of absenteeism due to illness.

•    Supply Chain:  Altek will work closely with our suppliers
and manufacturers to confirm that components orders are shipping on-time, and
we will notify customers if we learn of any delays.  If supplies of certain components become
constrained, we may need to request approval to use alternate parts.

•    Planning:  We encourage customers to review forecasts
and consider placing orders at least 3-6 months in advance of the next
scheduled order date. 

We value our business partnership with you and appreciate
the trust you place in us to mitigate impacts to schedules during this
coronavirus epidemic.

Best Regards,
Sabrina Beck, VP/CO-Ower

The 2019 Results Are In!

Altek conducts customer satisfaction surveys throughout the Year.    In addition to the continuous dialogue we have with our customers, we believe it’s important to “officially” check in on how we are doing.  2019 was a great year at Altek and it looks like our customers think so too!

Here are our 2019 customer comments!

Technical Support:

  • • Altek is a valued supplier for “Aerospace Customer”. Altek has always provided technical expertise while meeting all of the schedule and quality requirements.
  • • The staff at Altek is extremely accommodating. Altek has been helpful in all phases of our business–Design to production to service.
  • • Altek adapts quickly to our changes and always provided great feedback.
  • • It has been a pleasure working with Altek. Everyone we interact with is kind and professional. Sabrina communicated wonderfully with us during the quoting process. Brian’s (process engineer) meticulous review of our assembly gave us valuable feedback on our assembly process which translated into an improvement in product quality. Altek takes pride in not only about their process but ours. Thank you Altek…
  • • Working with Altek has been great. Sabrina’s been great in helping with everything and in a timely manner. Rob, the engineer, gave us some great tips before quoting during the design phase. When quoting, the board manufacturer and Altek communicated wonderfully with us. They gave us valuable information to help improve some things that could really have messed the boards up, and helped us try to come to a good place with a complicated board design. It’s always great when a manufacturer who cares about the end user’s design actually working before they manufacture it.

Product Quality:

  • • Everyone in Connecticut agrees… Altek quality and value is unmatched!!!!!
  • • Our partnership with Altek has been a pleasant experience for a few decades.  We look forward to the next decade working together!
  • • Exceeds all expectations on time delivery and quality.
  • • Altek has been nothing but a pleasure to work with over the years. Their attention to detail is second to none!
  • • Excellent service and quality! Pleasure and success doing business for Electronic PCB, Panels and Chassis assemblies.

Service and Delivery:

  • • The whole Altek staff is a pleasure to work with. Kudos to Christine for keeping our account in such good shape. She and Altek look out for our best interests.
  • • Not sure what to comment on, the customer service is the best.
  • • Michele Cunha does an excellent job at getting back to me with timely information.
  • • Altek is a best in class top notch supplier. Highly recommend. A pleasure to do business with. A+++ Christine Almeida is AMAZING!!!
  • • I appreciate everyone who supports our account.  I wish more suppliers were more like you.
  • • The Altek team is a pleasure to work with, fair, responsive, reliable, A+++
  • • Excellent customer service and delivery, Valued partner for our PCB services.

Altek Electronics Hosts Soldering Class – November 12, 2019

“Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes.” Peter Senge

Altek University was founded by Altek Electronics to share knowledge and lend technical support to customers to enhance their capabilities. A medical device customer sent the first of two groups for Soldering training to work with “Trainer Dave” for an interactive session. Interested in learning more…

Contact Sabrina Altschuler-Beck @ sabrina.beck@altekelectronics.com


Getting Started

You have found a CM that can support your Engineering needs. You have reviewed their manufacturing process and quality assurance checks and balances, so let’s get started!

Asking for a budgetary quote early in the process is a great idea. This is where you’ll uncover design and component concerns. You’ll need to supply the following to receive a complete assembly quote:

• Bill of Material, preferably in excel format, including at a minimum: manufacturer, manufacturer part number, quantity and reference designators
• Gerber files
• PCB fabrication drawing including PCB material, finish, silkscreen color (one side or two), mask color (one side or two)
• Assembly drawing (if complete)
• Schematic (if complete)
• Environmental compliance requirements (RoHS, REACh, Conflict Minerals, etc.)
• ITAR status (if used in a defense article, is the item subject to ITAR Control?)
• Requirements to program IC’s
• Functional or in-circuit test requirements
• Quantity, delivery or any special considerations

If you are in need of a PCB Design, here is a list of some of the information a design engineer will request:

• Product Specifications
• Functionality
• Mechanical constraints
• Power requirement
• Inputs and outputs
• End use
• Environmental considerations

You can see our specification form https://www.altekelectronics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/PCB_Artwork_Request.pdf for guidance.

Best of all schedule a meeting with the CM’s Engineering Team, who can assist with a quote for design development.

If you are not getting enough support from your current Contract Manufacturer, let us know. We have over 46 years of experience that we can put to work for you.   Link to https://www.altekelectronics.com/engineering
See what our customers are saying about us https://www.altekelectronics.com/testimonials/
Link to our facilities list https://www.altekelectronics.com/facilities-list/

Planning for Success – Part 2 of 3

Understanding how it’s made

Understanding the process that will be used to manufacture your product can provide insight into the overall quality of your electronic assemblies.

Quality Control

Solder Paste Inspection

All manufacturing processes have opportunities for defects. Ask what type of inspection occurs throughout the process. Does your CM use state-of-the-art equipment, such as solder paste inspection and 3D automated optical inspection? Having paste and optical inspection in the line flags defects before they make it off the line, and helps the CM perfect their process to eliminate defects altogether. Make sure your CM can also provide testing services. Functional and in-circuit test can ensure that your boards will work as intended in their application. A CM with the right engineering resources can design and build custom test fixtures and write code to automate testing and track test results. Is burn-in testing a desirable option for your product? Make sure this is addressed with your CM before your order is placed. A quality CM should ask these questions up-front and make sure they are planned into the job cycle.

Compliance Requirements

RoHS, REACh, ITAR, IPC Class, J-STD – Review your drawings before going to bid and make sure these and other requirements are clearly indicated on the drawings.

Best Practices

Robust Test Department

To maximize ROI, get your Contract Manufacturer involved early in the process. Talk about the following and make sure your CM measures up:
• Engineering expertise
• Quality and On-time delivery metrics
• Six Sigma practices
• Evidence of LEAN and continuous improvement initiatives
• Global Supply Chain Management
• Kanban inventory
• Investment in state-of-the-art capital equipment

If you are a company that has limited resources or are working at capacity, it’s critical to align with a Contract Manufacturer that can provide you with the depth of support you need.

If you are not getting enough support from your current Contract Manufacturer, let us know. We have over 46 years of experience that we can put to work for you.



Planning for Success – Part 1 of 3

Choosing a CM with a strong Engineering Department

Today’s electrical engineers are designing circuit boards that enable technology we didn’t dream about a few decades ago. From driverless cars to smart homes, new applications are changing the way we design and build boards. New products require smaller board sizes and a tighter footprint. This is why board layout is more important than ever. With less real estate, it’s tempting to place components too close together, creating manufacturing issues that can be compounded on panelized products.

Design Review

Some common board failures can be attributed to design oversights. Make sure that your CM’s process includes a DFM review as a part of their normal business practice. For example, they can identify potential issues with blind or buried vias caused by insufficient copper thickness or stacking. Layouts may not allow adequate spacing for proper thermal distribution during reflow or proper space for inspection, testing and rework. In addition to the PCB, the Engineer should analyze the BOM to identify component lifecycle risks, environmental compliance issues, long lead times and obsolete parts. Uncovering design and BOM weaknesses early in the process will significantly reduce your time to market and field failure rate. We can’t stress enough how important it is to involve your CM as early in the process as possible. A manufacturable design is the foundation of a successful product launch.

New Design

Starting from scratch? Identify a CM with a robust Engineering team. Utilize them as an extension of your business for new product development. A valuable CM will work with you from concept to schematic, layout, prototype, and production. Designing with the best manufacturing knowledge on your team will help you avoid design pitfalls and make sure your product moves through production with ease.

Product Support

Overcoming obsolete parts is a stumbling block with legacy products. Make sure your CM’s Engineering team has the ability to perform component engineering services and design custom solutions, such as daughter boards, to replace obsolete parts. Ask for examples of solutions they have provided for their customers.

Having a CM that can provide custom Software Development is a plus for product support. This is a value-added service, keeping your active and legacy products on the market for your customers.

If you are not getting enough support from your current Contract Manufacturer, let us know. We have over 46 years of experience that we can put to work for you.



SMTA Expo & Tech Forum

Altek Electronics will be exhibiting at the SMTA Expo – hope to see you there!


Registration is free for attendees, and exhibitor space is available (but not for much longer!). Take a look, and register now! Visit https://lnkd.in/eRDv-dw

Tech Session 1 : The Basics of SIR and ECM
Speaker: Meagan Sloan, Indium Corporation

Tech Session 2: Reliability of Robotics for Electronic Manufacturing

Tech Session 3: Bubba Powers, Weller Professional Tools
Perfecting a Cleaning Process for Hi-Rel Electronics
Speaker: Mike Jone, MicroCare

Keynote: Collaborative Robot UseCases in Electronics Manufacturing
Speaker: Eric Cowan, Stanley Black & Decker

Tech Session 4: Triple Jeopardy – Are you Game?
Speaker: Chrys Shea, Shea Engineering; Dr. Mark Curie, Henkel Electronic; Dr. Neil
Poole, Henkel Electronic

Raffle Prize Drawings – Must be present to win


Ever Changing State of Design – Design for Availability

Design for Manufacture has taken on a whole new direction. Keeping up with how the industry is changing and what you can do about it.

Design for Manufacture has taken on a whole new direction.  It used to be enough to consider component spacing, orientation, and electronic compatibility.  The number of components used in electronic products today has increased significantly, therefore putting a strain on the availability of components in the market place. 


Gordon Moore, Co-Founder of Intel authored Moore’s Law in 1965 – Moore states that the number of components able to fit on a single IC will double every year.  In 1985 Moore tweaked his projection to read “doubling every 2 years”.  This has continued to hold true for over 30 years.  Some say this is coming to an end as components will only get so small; however, the demand for new electronic devices continues to rise adding to the strain on the component supply.   The incredible increase in usage – demand outpacing supply, sourcing of raw materials, dealing with trade agreements and tariffs are lengthening our lead times considerably. 


These days the strained availability of components make it a whole new game.  Component size has decreased significantly allowing many more parts to be placed within the footprint of today’s smaller electronic devices.  The concept of Design for Manufacturability is joined by the necessity of Design for Availability.

Everyone can relate to the general consumer example of the cell phone.  Using today’s smaller component package size, mobile devices have decreased in size with a significant increase in functionality.  The capability of today’s integrated circuits turns cell phones into mini-computers with email, camera, video, internet access and thousands of apps making today’s product much different than Motorolas’ DynaTAC launched commerically in 1984 with 30 minutes of talk time.  This remarkable evolution is also evident in many other products including automobiles, medical devices, commercial and industrial equipment, consumer devices and aerospace applications.

Fun Fact:
1983 – Motorola Dynatac 8000X weighed – 1.75 pounds and was 13″ x 1.75″ x 3.5″.
2018 – IPhone XS Max weighs 7.34 oz and is 3″ x 6.25″ x .33″.


Design Engineers many not have control over the component market, but there are somethings we can do to avoid shutting down assembly lines.

•     Use smaller packages where possible.  For example, replace 1206 and 0805 chip caps and resistors with 0603, 0402, and 0205.

•     Verify that specified parts have an active lifecycle status (instead of Not Recommended for New Design, End of Life, etc.).

•     Spec at least 3 alternates for each item on the BOM, with a different manufacturer for each.

•     Use the lowest rating and widest tolerance range your design can handle. If these parts become unavailable, the same part with a tighter tolerance or higher rating may still be available.


We’re here to be a part of your solutions team.   Getting your CM involved early in the process will add significant value and eliminate build delays.  Altek can often assist with recommendations for alternates or design custom solutions.  We will identify and can handle advance ordering on long lead items. Our excellent relationships with our distributors give us an edge in meeting your need.


As Ben Franklin said in 1736 “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  This still holds true today.  Design for Availability activities will mitigate lead times and get your product to market on time.

Students, Manufacturers Meet To Fill Connecticut Aerospace Jobs

What a great day yesterday! The morning spent educating high school students on careers in manufacturing and the afternoon chatting with Aerospace professionals.

What a great day yesterday!  The morning spent educating high school students on careers in manufacturing and the afternoon chatting with Aerospace professionals.

Click to read the full article as it appeared in the Hartford Courant – by Stephen Singer